Not many parents are aware that if they have children together and then marry each other afterwards, they are required in law to re-register their children’s births. There has been quite a lot of confusion about this on social media and parents’ forums and groups. Our blog aims to help clear up that confusion. 

The relevant legislation is Section 2 of The Legitimacy Act 1976, which requires parents to legitimise their child after their marriage. This dates back to an age when illegitimate children (those born to unmarried parents) were unable to inherit from their parents. Registering children born before their parents’ marriage means the children would be legally recognised as “children of the marriage” and therefore able to inherit their parents’ estate. 

The principal of illegitimate children being unable to inherit no longer applies, providing the children can prove they are indeed children of the deceased parent. In normal circumstances, this is very easy to prove and is not usually an issue. However, the Legitimacy Act 1976 is still in place.

All parents need to do is download Form LA1 and submit it to their local register office to be processed. A new birth certificate will be issued, showing the mother’s married name.  There is no court fee, but there will be fees for copies of the child’s new birth certificate.

Re-registering a child’s birth will not grant or remove a father’s parental responsibility. If he and the mother were not married at the time of the child’s birth but he is named on the birth certificate, he will have parental responsibility. 

The re-registration only applies to children born in the UK or on British soil overseas, such as military bases or embassies.

There is a financial penalty for parents who fail to re-register their child’s birth. This is a nominal sum of £2, which may not sound like much today, but back in 1976, the average weekly wage for a woman was only £45, and a pint of beer cost just 20 pence. Thankfully, today, society and the law no longer stigmatise children for being born to unmarried parents, so it is highly unlikely that any parent who has not re-registered their child’s birth after marrying their partner will be fined.


Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.


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